Ingredient Substitutions for Common and Uncommon Ingredients
No content available.
Making the Best of What You Have!
November 12, 2021
For daily wit & wisdom, sign up for the Almanac newsletter.
Out of baking powder, milk, eggs, flour? Our Ingredient Substitutions Guide has a long list of very common—and uncommon—ways to make that recipe work! When a craving gets you into the kitchen to do some cooking and you find that you’re missing one or two of the recipe’s ingredients, don’t despair. Look here!
Even uncommon or exotic ingredients can be substituted with others that are in your pantry, or with ones that are easier (and a lot less expensive) to get. For example, no bamboo shoots? Use asparagus. Need shallots? Red or Spanish onion do nicely. Out of tamarind juice? Combine 5 parts ketchup and 1 part vinegar.
Check below for other simple subs—and cook, eat, and enjoy!
Here are simple substitutions for basic cooking ingredients.
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Arrowroot, as thickener
1 tablespoon flour; or 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 teaspoons baking powder; or 1 teaspoon potassium bicarbonate and 1/3 teaspoon salt.
1 cup cracker crumbs; or 1 cup matzo meal OR 1 cup ground oats
Add 1 tablespoon of molasses plus granulated sugar to make 1 cup
1 cup margarine; or 1 cup shortening plus 1/2 teaspoon salt; or 7/8 cup vegetable oil plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening OR 7/8 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup; or 1 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon unsaltedbutter (or shortening or vegetable oil)
1 cup dry bread crumbs; or 1 tablespoon quick-cooking oats (for thickening)
3/4 cup milk plus 1/3 cup melted butter (this will not whip)
7/8 cup milk plus 3 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
7/8 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt plus 3 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
2/3 cup well-chilled evaporated milk, whipped; or 1 cup nonfat dry milk powder whipped with 1 cup ice water
1 whole (3 tablespoons)
2 yolks plus 1 tablespoon cold water; or 3 tablespoons vegetable oil plus 1 tablespoon water (for baking); or 3 tablespoons mayonainaise (for cakes); or 2 1/2 tablespoons of powdered egg substitute plus 2 1/2 tablespoons water, or 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute; or half a banana mashed with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons meringue powder plus 3 tablespoons water, combined
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons cake flour (not advised for cookies or quick breads); or 1 cup self-rising flour (omit baking powder and salt from recipe).
Reader suggestion: 5/8 cup potato flour; or 1–1/4 cups rye flour or coarsely ground whole-grain flour; or 1 cup cornmeal
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour plus 3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1–1/2 teaspoons baking powder plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small clove
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or instant minced garlic
1/2 to 1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, minced and packed
1–1/4 cups sugar plus 1/2 cup liquid called for in recipe (such as water or oil); or 1 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup tomato sauce plus 1/4 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon salt plus inch of ground cloves combined; or 1 cup chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
Lemon, juice and rind
3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice and 1 teaspoon dried grated rind
Lemon rind, grated
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt; or 1 cup cottage cheese (pureed)
1/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk plus 3/4 cup water
Milk, to sour
1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice plus milk to equal 1 cup. Stir and let stand 5 minutes.
1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water; or 3/4 cup 2 percent milk plus 1/4 cup half and half
1 cup honey or dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon prepared mustard less 1 teaspoon liquid from recipe
1 cup wheat bran or rice bran or wheat germ
1 cup steel-cut Irish or Scotch oats
Oil, for baking
½ cup of applesauce (keeps baked goods moist, but with less fat)
1 tablespoon instant minced onion; or 1 teaspoon onion powder; or 1/4 cup frozen chopped onion
1 cup millet or couscous (whole wheat cooks faster) or bulgur
Sugar, dark brown
1 cup light-brown sugar, packed; or 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 to 3 tablespoons molasses
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar; or 1–3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (but makes baked goods less crisp); or 1 cup superfine sugar
1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 to 2 tablespoons molasses; or 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Sweetened condensed milk
1 can (14 oz.)
1 cup evaporated milk plus 1-1/4 cup granulated sugar. Combine and heat until sugar dissolves.
1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water; or 1–1/3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, simmered
1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water plus dash each salt and sugar; or 1/4 cup tomato paste plus 3/4 cup water plus salt and sugar, to taste
1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup tomato paste plus 1/2 cup water
1 can (10–3/4 oz.)
1 cup tomato sauce plus 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or substitute bourbon, rum, or whiskey, using two times the amount of vanilla called for in the recipe.
1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice, or 2 teaspoons white wine
Vinegar, apple cider
malt, white-wine, or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon red- or white-wine vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
white-wine, sherry, champagne, or balsamic vinegar.
apple-cider, champagne, or white-wine vinegar
Vinegar, white wine
apple-cider, champagne, fruit (raspberry), rice, or red-wine vinegar
1 cup chicken or beef broth; or 1 cup fruit juice mixed with 2 teaspoons vinegar; or 1 cup water
1 cake (3/5 oz.)
1 package (1/4 ounce) or 1 scant tablespoon active dried yeast
1 cup sour cream (thicker; less tart) or buttermilk (thinner; use in baking, dressings, sauces)
Substitutions for Uncommon Ingredients
Here is a list of substitutions for ingredients that are a little less common or can occasionally be hard to find.
Balsamic vinegar—1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Asparagus (in fried dishes)
Yellow summer squash or zucchini
Parsley (for color only; flavor cannot be duplicated)
2–1/2 cups water plus 2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut.
Combine and bring to a boil. Remove from heat; cool. Mix in a blender for 2 minutes; strain. Makes about 2 cups.
Butternut squash or sweet potato
Sour, green cooking apples
5 jalapeno peppers or serrano peppers
Equal parts basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme
3 tablespoons heavy cream plus 3/4 cup cream cheese plus 4 tablespoons butter
Cream cheese or Boursin
Light brown sugar
Pale, dry sherry or white vermouth
Equal amount pimientos
Turmeric (for color; flavor is different)
Red onions or Spanish onions
5 parts ketchup to 1 part vinegar
Please let us know if we’re missing any substitutions that you’d like to see! Also, if you have other sugestions on ingredient substitutions (which you’ve personally tested successfully), please share in the comments below! Thank you!